The White House is offering Democrats a dollar-for-dollar deal to fund Obamacare subsidies and the border wall in the upcoming spending bill, according to budget director Mick Mulvaney, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shot it down, with snark.
Mulvaney told Bloomberg Live on Friday that White House officials have told Democrats they’re willing to fund $1 in Obamacare subsidies for every $1 that’s provided for the border wall as both parties look to avert a government shutdown next Friday.
“That’s the offer we’ve given to our Democratic colleagues. That should form the fundamental understanding that gets us to an agreement,” Mulvaney said.
Schumer’s office quickly threw cold water on the proposal, with spokesman Matt House saying Democrats thought Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall.
“The White House gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, in order to force American taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall that the president said would be paid for by Mexico is a complete nonstarter,” he said. “If the administration would drop their eleventh-hour demand for a wall that Democrats, and a good number of Republicans, oppose, congressional leaders could quickly reach a deal.”
Trump campaigned on a platform that was largely defined by his staunch opposition to illegal immigration, and one of his more controversial pledges was to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border that Mexico, not the U.S., would pay for. Mexico has repeatedly made clear that it has no intention of paying for such a project, and Trump has since suggested that the Latin American nation will pay back the U.S. after the wall’s construction.
An Office of Management and Budget spokesman on Friday declined to comment on how or when the White House specifically made the offer. Democrats say they have been in talks only with Republican leadership and not directly with the White House.
“We’ve finally boiled this negotiation down to something that we want very badly that the Democrats really don’t like, and that’s the border wall,” Mulvaney said. “At the same time, there’s something they want very badly, that we don’t want very much, which are these cost-sharing reductions, Obamacare payments.”
The Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies cost about $7 billion per year, while Trump initially asked for about $1.4 billion to begin construction of the border wall.
The former conservative lawmaker also acknowledged that Congress is more likely to pass a short-term spending bill next week than face a shutdown.